Friday, November 9, 2007

Future CPSL Activities

At our previous open general membership meeting on Sun 04 Nov 07 (minutes of which are available from our Group Notices Archive & a notecard giver at CPSL HQ), there was consensus approval for this Proposal:

A Beginning of Activity: for 2 weeks we have general meeting, and all us and all comrades expose in this meeting their ideas about activities.

So at the next two general meetings on Sun 11 and Sun 18 Nov 07 we'll be discussing and possibly voting on which activity/activities our Party will focus its efforts in the near future.

I agreed to develop and publicise a way for comrades to publish their outlines of suitable activities for CPSL's next step, in advance of our regular Sunday open general meetings. Doing it this way has at least four distinct advantages...
> 1. Our minds are focused in advance on what we would like to see our CPSL doing in the near future
> 2. We take the time to make our idea(s) concrete by writing it/them down in outline form
> 3. Those written idea(s) outlines are published in an easily accessible place, so we can read each others outlines in advance of discussing them
> 4. At the following regular Sunday meeting, we can have an informed discussion about our outlines, rather than just arriving relatively unprepared

The easiest method is to share your idea(s) outline on future CPSL activities right here in Second Shift, by adding them as a comment to this post. So just click on the comments link below, and enter your outline. You may find it useful to write your idea(s) outline in a word processor (free examples: TextEdit on OS X, WordPad on Windows, or Google Docs in your web browser) then copy-and-paste it into a comment here. And do please remember to include a title and your name within your outline, so can accurately refer to it in the discussion meetings, for instance: Enferinel's 'Recruitment Drive' idea.

In Solidarity,

Dalinian Bing

4 comments:

dalinian said...

Being Left in Second Life -- Future Visions
by Dalinian Bing

An Activity Outline for our Communist Party

Short-form: Dal's Being Left ISL


Hi Comrades,

As suggested at our first regular open membership general meeting on Sun 04 Nov 07, here's my Activity Outline contribution to our conversation about the next step for our CPSL.

Note: given the formatting of this web page vs, the size of this outline, you may find it easier to copy-and-paste this Activity Outline comment to word processor (free examples: TextEdit on OS X, WordPad on Windows, or Google Docs in your web browser).


PREAMBLE

I think we need to be a pole of attraction for people who are sympathetic to radical left wing ideas -- workers the world over, anti-capitalists, anarchists, anti-militarists, direct action activists, earth-firsters, socialists, single issue campaigners, trade unionists, [add your own category, ...]. To do so, we can choose at least two lines of advance, which could be characterised as either...

1. Tackling a RL Issue
We begin by mobilising around a particular issue -- for example, say, military dictatorships (Iraq, Burma, Pakistan et al)
> advantage: concreteness -- more rooted in a topical real world issue
> disadvantage: exclusive -- could fail to attract those who do not relate to the particular issue around which we choose to focus our mobilisation

2. Revolutionising Politics in SL
We can be more general, and focus on the possibilities for forwarding progressive and especially revolutionary politics in Second Life.
> advantage: inclusive -- potential to attract more of those sympathetic to radical left wing ideas
> disadvantage: insularity -- we may face the accusation of being SL navel gazers, unconnected and unconcerned about the real world

A word of caution: beware of the false dichotomy! In your opinion, one or both of these two categories may be bogus or irrelevant; or we should be adding 3., 4., 5., ...; or we should REALLY be choosing between A., B. and C. Nevertheless, that said, I'll continue with these two categories.

I've mentioned only the principle pros and cons I foresee above, and you may think other criteria weigh more heavily on our decision about the next step for our Party.

On balance, I'm in favour of option 2, Revolutionising Politics in SL, and here's why.

I'm aware that I'm a relative new comer, but in the two months I have been paying attention to English-language left politics ISL, the quantity of meaty political discussion here seems to be vanishingly small. Unfortunately, like most Britz, I'm not fluent in any language other than English, so the my wanderings in the multi-language-left-politics-in-SL phase space is confined to English-only areas [1]. And yet I hope and trust that our Party is thoroughly internationalist to its core, so although we may of necessity use English as our de facto lingua franca, my hope is that our comrades who also know French, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish [2] et al can fill us in on how the quantity of political discussion on the left within those language groups relates to that of the English group.


PURPOSE

What I'd like to see is an increase in political discussion on the left in SL, and I'd like to see that centred around revolutionary communist politics -- and I hope the CPSL can be the axis around which this political discussion revolves, and the lens through which this increase in political discussion is focussed.


PROPOSAL

So my proposal is that we set a date, time and venue [3] for an Open Public Gathering [4] called "Being Left in Second Life -- Future Visions". We use our contacts with friends, acquaintances, other left groups and general progressive groups to best effect, in promoting an event at which everybody gets an equal right to talk uninterrupted for an equal amount of time, provided we all stick to addressing the issue at hand: What does it mean to be a progressive political force in Second Life? And [second/third/fourth on-topic question, as determined by internal Party discussions]? So we set the boundaries of the discussion in advance, and reserve the right to re-focus a speaker who wanders too far outside those boundaries, but we rely on there being sufficient communists willing to speak to fly the red flag for our communist ideas, rather than get 'the fix' in by a biased chairperson choosing to favour 'our comrades' over 'that other lot'.

If you agree with my PURPOSE above, I hope you may agree that my PROPOSAL is a good approach to beginning to achieve that objective.


POSTSCRIPT

Enough already! What part of 'OUTLINE' don't I understand? ;-} That's my two [ cents / pennies / euros ] worth. I know it's submission is most likely too late for a proper discussion at today's second regular open membership general meeting (Sun 11 Nov 07). And yet I hope it may also inspire YOU, comrade, to draw up an Activity Outline of your own (note: it surely don't need to be nearly as long as this one! ;-), and post it here, so at our third open general meeting (Sun 18 Nov 07) we can get to an informed vote/concensus on which next step our Party will take.

In Solidarity,

Dalinian Bing


Sun 11 Nov 07



Footnotes

[1] English-only areas: technically, a multi-dimensional English-only volume in the multi-language-left-politics-in-SL phase space, but there's no need whatsoever to get so nerdishly technical {blush} ;-]

[2] Languages in SL: I've listed the ones I'm aware of existing here among sufficient numbers of residents so as to give rise to left wing lanuage specific groups; and no doubt my knowledge of this aspect of SL is fairly limited.

[3] Venue choice: I'd definitely favour an egalitarian geometry -- ideally banked seating in the round, like a 360 degree amphitheater, so we can all 'see' each other and there are no privileged positions, like 'the front', the 'top table' etc. And we need to be careful to match size of venue to the number of folks we expect to attend. To few in a vast space feels isolating; too many in a small venue looks like poor planning; and striking a happy medium is never easy. But we could use comments to a Second Shift Meeting Announcement post as a sign-up sheet to get people to commit to being there, and gage if a venue size change would be tactical on the incoming comments. Or on second thoughts, with enough lead time, I could design and build a modular scalable banked-seating-in-the-round 360 degree amphitheater, rezzable in a sandbox by prior arrangement, that expands to accommodate more people as they show up.

[4] Open Public Gathering: personally I think 'meeting' smacks too much of the obviously tightly controlled and hierarchical tactics of the real world left's "open public" events: a 'top table' with speakers and chairperson at 'the front', faced by 'the audience', in which -- if your face doesn't fit -- you'll be relegated to speaking for a minute at the end, after a dozen of the chairperson's organisation's members have toed the party line for five minutes each [5]. So I'd prefer "Open Public Gathering", to emphasise a more egalitarian coming together of people, all of whom have an equal right to be heard. And I've seen an automatic 'click here to be added to the your-turn-to-talk queue' device -- it displays the your-turn-to-talk queue as a hovertext list -- which could help facilitate this process.

[5] 'Meeting' smacks too much of [...]: perhaps that's just my jaundiced and cynical Anglo-centric viewpoint; and nevertheless, I do think that it is of great importance that we express our egalitarianism in the geometry and processes of the events we organise.

Hermes Szondi said...

Future of the CPSL
By Hermes Szondi

The German version is decisive for the understanding of this text since the mechanical translation (through the software “Power translator”) is presumably imperfect and inaccurate. I hope that the content nevertheless is comprehensible. (Maybe somebody also could improve the translation or correct it.)

PRELUDE

The CPSL exists since spring 2007 and has 160 registered members, of whom approximately only one dozen however actually are active. One can assume that there should be far over 1000 Communist that are in SL regularly. However, it is unclear whether it should be the aim of the CPSL to build a virtual party in SL with as many members as possible. This leads to the question what the aims (and activities) of a CP can be at all in SL. Dalinian Bing already wrote a first contribution to it, and I try to widen the discussion here:

ACTIVITIES

1. Trackling a RL Issue

The problem with it seems to me, that we primarily reach people, “who know it already anyway”. We mobilize (for example with Iraq, Burma, Pakistan) only the like-minded and the repercussion for the RL is presumably low. It will be rather a quaint exception, that the RL-media reports about political activities in SL. (How for example with the G8-Demos.)

2. Revolutionising Politics in SL

The example IBM shows that it is effective, if there is a direct connection and concerning between SL and RL. However (presumably), there will be few areas where this interface between RL and SL makes a meaningful campaign possible. (Maybe one would have to produce a list of all RL-concerns that are present in SL and possibly would be assailable in SL.)

The two first points aim directly at direction “Action" and mobilization. According to my opinion, there could be an important benefit of the CPSL also of a Marxist discussion-forum: an international exchange of views about the world-situation and new ways of (cyber) protest and resistance:

3. Marxist platform

This “Club" is open to all currents of the revolutionary lefts, that agree with the principles of the CPSL (our Notecard). The “Club" meets regularly online in SL and could continue the discussion in this blog.

Since the wall-break 1989 and the breakdown of the USSR, the new world-order produced an even more brutal form of the capitalism. Public state areas are privatized and the huge power of the concerns only became possible through the globalization and computerization of the world. Where is a dialectical chance for the social global movement today?

We live in an extremely contradictory time. All these developments of the last 20 years were analyzed too little from Marxist view. A “Club" with an international Marxist dialogue would be a chance in order to develop a new revolutionary practice from the theory. (Maybe there are already similar projects in the internet. One also should include these.)

Concretely, I could imagine following thematic areas:

- For example Discussion about "internet and high society: Social Theory in the information Age."(By Christian Fuchs.) Maybe it also could be possible that the CPSL organizes a SL-event (discussion) with Christian Fuchs personally.

- In this context a critical remark about the problem of „linguistic power advantage“: The author Christian Fuchs lives in Vienna and is German mother tongue. Why are the German-language comrades missing in the CPSL? We should necessarily be able to execute also language-regional Meetings.

- In the same context: I miss also French-language-y comrades. In France, presently runs the most important strike against the government Sarkosy (in the historic meaning comparably with the fight of the miners against the government Thatcher). There should be certainly also French comrades in SL, however! (Also, the state railroad-company SNCF is present at SL.)

- I would be also interested in discussions on the Empire-Theories of Negri / Hardt or the Shock-Theories of Naomi Klein. Not like a “book-club", rather in order to develop a new revolutionary perspective from the discussion.

Of course, there were also numerous other discussion-topics. This is only one list of the areas that interest me primarily. I would like to find out what expectations, ideas and suggestions other comrades do have.




Zukunft der CPSL
von Hermes Szondi

Massgeblich für das Verständnis dieses Textes ist die Deutsche Version, da die mechanische Übersetzung (durch die Software „Power Translator“) vermutlich unvollkommen und ungenau ist. Ich hoffe, der Inhalt ist trotzdem verständlich. (Vielleicht kann auch jemand die Übersetzung noch verbessern oder korrigieren.)

Einleitung

Die CPSL existiert seit Frühling 2007 und hat 160 eingeschriebene Mitglieder, wovon jedoch nur etwa ein Dutzend effektiv aktiv ist. Man darf davon ausgehen, dass es weit über 1000 Kommunisten geben dürfte, die sich regelmässig in SL aufhalten. Es ist aber unklar, ob es das Ziel der CPSL sein soll, in SL eine virtuelle Partei mit möglichst vielen Mitgliedern aufzubauen. Dies führt zur Frage, was überhaupt die Ziele (und Aktivitäten) einer CP in SL sein können. Dalinian Bing hat dazu bereits einen ersten Beitrag verfasst und ich versuche hier die Diskussion zu erweitern:

Aktivitäten

1. „Trackling a RL Issue“ (Ein Thema aus dem RL aufgreifen)

Das Problem dabei scheint mir, dass wir in SL damit primär Leute erreichen, die es sowieso „bereits wissen“. Wir mobilisieren (beispielsweise mit Irak, Burma, Pakistan) nur Gleichgesinnte und die Rückwirkung auf das RL ist vermutlich gering. Es dürfte auch eher eine kuriose Ausnahme sein, wenn die RL - Medien berichten über politische Aktivitäten in SL. (Wie z.B. bei den G8-Demos).

2. „Revolutionising Politics in SL“ (Revolutionäre Politik in SL)

Das Beispiel IBM zeigt, dass es wirkungsvoll ist, wenn es einen direkten Zusammenhang und Bezug zwischen SL und RL gibt. Es wird aber (vermutlich) wenige Bereiche geben, wo diese Schnittstelle zwischen RL und SL eine sinnvolle Kampagne möglich macht. (Vielleicht müsste man eine Liste aller RL- Konzerne erstellen, die in SL präsent sind und möglicherweise in SL angreifbar wären.)

Die beiden ersten Punkte zielen direkt in Richtung „Action“ und Mobilisierung. Meines Erachtens könnte ein wichtiger Nutzen der CPSL auch in einem marxistischen Diskussionsforum bestehen: ein internationaler Meinungsaustausch zur Weltlage und neue Wege von (Cyber) Protest und Widerstand:

3. Marxistische Plattform

Dieser „Club“ ist offen für alle Strömungen der revolutionären Linken, die mit den Prinzipien der CPSL (unsere Notecard) einverstanden sind. Der „Club“ trifft sich regelmässig in SL online (und könnte auch in einem Forum zeitunabhängig die Diskussion fortführen.)

Seit dem Mauerfall 1989 und dem Zusammenbruch der UdSSR hat die neue Weltordnung eine noch brutalere Form des Kapitalismus hervorgebracht. Öffentliche staatliche Bereiche werden privatisiert und die gewaltige Macht der Konzerne wurde erst möglich durch die Globalisierung und Computerisierung der Welt.
Wo liegt heute eine dialektische Chance für die soziale globale Gegenbewegung?

Wir leben in einer extrem widersprüchlichen Zeit. All diese Entwicklungen der letzten 20 Jahre wurden aus marxistischer Sicht zu wenig analysiert. Ein „Club“ mit einem internationalen marxistischen Dialog wäre eine Chance, um aus der Theorie eine neue revolutionäre Praxis zu entwickeln. (Vielleicht gibt es bereits ähnliche Projekte im Internet. Diese sollte man auch einbeziehen.)

Konkret könnte ich mir folgende thematischen Bereiche vorstellen:

- Cyber-Subversion: Diskussion über "Internet and Society: Social Theory in the Information Age."
(By Christian Fuchs.) Denkbar wäre vielleicht auch, dass die CPSL eine SL - Veranstaltung (Diskussion) mit Christian Fuchs persönlich organisiert.

- In diesem Zusammenhang eine kritische Bemerkung zum Problem „linguistic power advantage“: Der Autor Christian Fuchs lebt in Wien und ist deutscher Muttersprache. Warum fehlen in der CPSL die deutschsprachigen Genossen? Wir sollten unbedingt auch sprachregionale Meetings durchführen können.

- Im gleichen Zusammenhang: Auch französischsprachige Genossen vermisse ich. In Frankreich läuft gegenwärtig der wichtigste Streik gegen die Regierung Sarkosy (in der historischen Bedeutung vergleichbar mit dem Kampf der Bergarbeiter gegen die Regierung Thatcher). Es sollte doch sicher auch französische Genossen in SL geben! (Auch die Staatliche Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft SNCF ist in SL anwesend.)

- Interessieren würden mich auch Diskussionen z.B. über die Empire-Theorie von Negri/Hardt oder die Shock-Theorie von Naomi Klein. Nicht um zu einem „Buch-Club“ zu werden, sondern um aus der Diskussion eine neue revolutionäre Perspektive zu entwickeln.

Natürlich gäbe es auch zahlreiche andere Diskussionsthemen. Dies ist nur eine Liste der Bereiche, die mich primär interessieren. Ich würde gerne erfahren, was andere Genossen für Erwartungen, Ideen und Vorschläge haben.

Smoke said...

Activity Outline for CPSL
By Smoke Wijaya

Dear comrades,

I’ve been with CPSL for a long time now, before we started the HQs early this year. Together with Rock, Keks, Vlad, we established the CPSL HQs. The “communist party” grew rapidly in members. With this growth, the questions about structure and activity of the party surfaced.

What is it CPSL should be and how? This has been the central question ever since…and cause of many disputes (pouring out of the discussions/meetings to set a structure/course of action). After the last “crisis”, where several formerly active members, like Rockerduck, Broz, Ninia (who were also cc-members), left the party, we have re-started another round of talks and meetings on what CPSL should be and do.
Besides these comrades who left, there are more comrades, like Keks and Vlad, and lately HenryJames, who are not online/active anymore. New comrades have come along of course, but the activity has been minimal overall.

It has been said many times, but I will restate it: CPSL has about 160 members, but only a small portion is actually active in the sense that they come to meetings/discussions etc. The rest are ghosts.

Why is that? I asked myself this question many times…and do not have a real answer.
What I can tell is what I think, after all the time, effort and money I spend on CPSL (HQs), what the next steps should be in my opinion.

As said, the only thing we talk about is the structure and course of action of CPSL, as party.
We have been thinking of CPSL as an organization to organize Marxists and advance Marxist thought. However, we don’t have something to organize them for. We are in SL and we are not affiliated to a RL org/party.
The only thing we can mobilize for are particular RL issues. These however ask for a official statement of CPSL and experiences have shown that this causes problems; and the consequence has been that nothing happens and members left. And for those actions that has been organized, CPSL wasn’t the only organizer, nor the initiator; besides that, only some comrades were then active in organizing.
When you think about it, there is not really any activity we ask from our members then to be active in building something for the sake of symbolism. What is it what we want people to do, when we ask them to be active? Attend meetings…in which we discuss about CPSL.

In light of the apparent impossibility of this kind of mobilizing/organizing as party/org, there has been many thoughts about that CPSL should be more of a Marxist Political Club, a Marxist forum.
However, experiences show that when there are discussions, we are preaching to the converted; CPSL is not, and will not, imo, be a place for the broader “left” in SL.
What the Left in SL in its totality needs is a common meetingplace where people from different tendencies meet up.
Besides that, the blog is a way better tool for prolonged debate then inworld discussions, in my opinion.

Which brings me to the actual CPSL HQs/land. From the beginning, there have been only two or three people supporting the land: people who bought the land, deeded and keep paying to support it. I have been taking the largest part of this sum for my account. Every month I pay about 35 US$ for the HQs land.
Asking members to support in donations have never been successful in the long term. So, however it is “groupowned” land, it really isn’t. Part of the reason for that is the SL structure, but workarounds can be thought of.
The sandbox I created for comrades is only used by one or two. The freebie shop and its contents are built/submitted by a few…and there has not been added anything in a long time.
No one (maybe this is because of the inherent structure of SL groups) comes with ideas for the HQs itself.
This is in part a personal thing, because I am struggling to be able to keep supporting the actual land…and will have to tier down (the amount of rent/tier paid to LL every month) anyway to not get in to much debts.

What do I propose?

I stated that the CPSL cannot be a real “party”, but only a forum, only a Marxist political club; however the name and aims&principles suggest otherwise. But for that purpose, a web-based forum, or the blog, are better tools, in my opinion.
To have an inworld political club that is only Marxist, is not very useful. I already said that I think we need that for the Left in SL in its totality. But that’s another discussion.

I don’t take it lightly what I am going to suggest (part because I have spend so much time in this whole project), but I think we have to draw the conclusions that:

1. CPSL as SL based “communist party” is not viable.
2. for CPSL as Marxist political club/forum a web-based forum or blog is better suited.
3. CPSL is not suited as pivotal point or common meeting ground for a broader spectrum of the Left in SL

And consequently, I propose that:

1. We stop the project “CPSL HQs”; we sell the land in Vigdorova
2. We focus on the Blog SecondShift instead, to make it into a real Marxist magazine with articles and discussion, instead of a archive of “party” documents.


Yours Sincerely,

Smoke Wijaya

Hermes Szondi said...

Ich bin nicht einverstanden mit allen Schlussfolgerungen und Vorschlägen von Smoke.

1. Eine Reduzierung auf ein Forum (Blog SecondShift) ist der falsche Weg. Die Kommunikation in SL ist spannend, weil es einen direkten Dialog inworld ermöglicht. Ohne diese lebendigen Diskussionen (Chat) zwischen Menschen wird eine wichtige Qualität fehlen. Nur Theorie ist sehr trocken. Ohne persönliche Gespräche (inworld) gebe ich dem Blog keine lange Zukunft. Der spontane Chat hat eine Lebendigkeit, die in einem Blog fehlt. Ich denke, eine Kombination von “Blog” und “inworld” ist nötig, damit ein “Marxistischer Club” lebendig bleibt.
2. Die Informationen wegen dem Land in Vigdorova und den Finanzen waren für mich neu. Ich verstehe, warum Smoke mit der Situation unzufrieden ist. Aber wir sollten die Diskussion nicht mit der finanziellen Frage beginnen. Es ist eine politische Frage, ob wir ein HQ’s benötigen. Erst wenn wir entscheiden, dass wir kein HQ’s brauchen, dann wird der Landverkauf zum Thema.
3. Offen ist für mich die Frage, warum wir nicht das HQ’s umbenennen und umwandeln in einen “Treffpunkt” für allen linken Genossen: “What the Left in SL in its totality needs is a common meetingplace where people from different tendencies meet up.“ (Smoke).


I don't agree with all conclusions and suggestions of Smoke.

1. A reduction at a forum (Blog SecondShift) is the wrong way. The communication in SL is exciting because it makes possible a direct dialogue for inworld. An important quality will be missing without these animated discussions (Chat) between people. Without personal conversations (inworld), I don't give any long future to the Blog. The spontaneous Chat has a liveliness, that is missing in a Blog. I think, a combination of "Blog" and "inworld" is necessary so that a "Marxist club" remains alive.
2. The information about the land in Vigdorova and the finances was new for me. I understand why Smoke is unsatisfied with the situation. But we should not begin the discussion with the financial question. It is a political question whether we need the HQ's. Only if we decide, that we don't need any HQ's, then the land-sale gets a topic.
3. The question is open to me why we couldn’t rename the HQ's and change into a "meetingplace" for all the left comrades: "What the Left in SL in its totality needs is a common meetingplace where people from different tendencies meet up." (Smoke).